St1’s new Refuel ethanol biofuel cuts transport-related fossil CO2 emissions by up to 80%

Finnish energy company St1 is the first distributor to start sales of the new domestic biofuel product Refuel. The biofuel meets the technical requirements of the E85 fuel quality standard and it will contain 80–85% of bioethanol produced by St1 from Finnish biowaste using the company’s Etanolix® concept. Using the new Refuel requires flex-fuel cars which are simultaneously introduced by several car makers in Finland.

Refuel marks a breakthrough in the development of environmentally friendly fuels – the bioethanol in the fuel blend is produced from local industrial waste and sidestreams with highly energy efficient concept and it can lead up to 80% less fossil CO2 emissions from transport.

The launched new product in Finland is tailored to Finnish conditions and, thanks to carefully selected special petrol components, improved cold start properties. St1 has also launched an extensive testing programme with the VTT Finnish Technical Research Centre of Finland, aimed at optimising the consistency of the new high blend ethanol to ensure best possible usability in Finnish conditions.

Refuel high blend ethanol increasingly widely available as the project progresses

The distribution stage of the two-year development project will begin on 1 April 2009 when Refuel will hit the fuel pumps at three of St1’s petrol stations in greater Helsinki. The code used to denote the new product on the price boards and fuel pumps will be RE85. The price of RE85 in Finland will be at least 30 euro cents lower than that of 95E petrol. This saves motorists from spending extra on the lower energy content of the new high blend ethanol fuel.

”We can all influence the climate change by our everyday choices. Motorists now have a tangible means of significantly helping to cut fossil carbon dioxide emissions that accelerate global warming,” says Mika Aho, Managing Director of St1 Biofuels Oy.

In the future, the distribution network of RE85 will expand according to demand. St1 is continuously developing its network of petrol stations and laying down foundations for enabling wider distribution of the new product in the years to come. Ultimately, the company hopes to make the product a permanent feature on the Finnish market.

RE85 enables imports of environmentally friendly flex-fuel cars

St1’s RE85 meets the technical requirements of the E85 fuel quality standard, which means that it can be used in car manufacturers’ existing flex-fuel models. As the name suggests, flex-fuel cars can run on both high blend ethanol and conventional petrol, and both fuels can be pumped flexibly into the same tank. GM, Volvo and Ford have already started to prepare for the imminent launch of the new high blend ethanol on the Finnish market by importing these models, which are already in use around the world. Flex-fuel models are expected to appeal to both ecological Finnish consumers and businesses – especially as the use of environmentally friendly bioethanol is possible at no extra cost.

Finnish fuel innovation on the cutting edge of development

The objective set out in the European Biofuels Directive is for biological components to account for 5.75% of the energy content of transport fuels next year, including fuels sold in Finland. The current Finnish law on the promotion of the use of biofuels in transport stipulates a target of 4% to be reached this year. The amount of biocomponents is set to increase rapidly in the future – the targets set for the year 2020 in the European climate action and renewable energy package already suggest a significantly stricter approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the use of renewable energy sources and their status in transport.

St1 uses its own Etanolix® concept of dispersed biofuels production and turns waste and side-streams of the food processing industry into bioethanol; in other words, the production units are located next to source of feedstock and the produced bioethanol then taken to the centralized dehydration plant in Hamina for further processing. St1 is the only bioethanol producer in the world using waste as feedstock. The method to produce bioethanol from waste and sidestreams of the food processing industry meets all sustainability criteria without any doubt. High quality animal feed is also produced with same equipment and energy.

In-house bioethanol production has allowed St1 to launch various development projects, such as the current initiative to develop a new kind of waste-based high blend ethanol in collaboration with VTT. The role of VTT is especially important as regards life cycle assessments and optimising the product for the Finnish climate as well as field testing. The Finnish Ministry of Finance has granted tax relief for the high blend ethanol that the project generates. Together St1 and VTT hope to introduce new, competitively priced and highly environmentally friendly transport biofuels that are based on renewable energy sources.

”The objectives of the European climate action and renewable energy package set immense challenges on energy use in transport as well. This calls for new, innovative energy sources and solutions for growing transport not just in Finland but all over the world. New products that are the most advanced in Europe have now become available for the production of second-generation biofuels. The new fuel ethanol applications developed by St1 open up genuinely new possibilities for reaching both the current 4% target set out in Finnish law on the promotion of biofuels and the 10% target set on renewable energy sources in transport in 2020,” explains Kai Sipilä, Vice-President of Energy, VTT.

St1’s concept for turning biowaste into ethanol continues to evolve and grow

St1s distributed ethanol production network has three Etanolix® plants and one centralized dehydration plant in production in Finland. The next Etanolix® units will be built in Vantaa and Lahti. This year also sees St1 introducing a brand new bioethanol production plant concept in Hämeenlinna, Finland. The new BionolixTM plants will be using domestic and commercial biowaste as feedstock. These feedstock will multiply the possibilities and the volume of St1’s dispersed biofuels production. Followed by next-generation bioethanol plants, which are currently under development by St1 Biofuels, will run on consumer, industrial and commercial packaging and straw, for example.

St1 has plans to build ethanol-plants in Sweden and Poland and distribute the Refuel through its own petrol stations. For other countries the aim is to develop Etanolix® networks together with local partners. With these co operations and licensing domestic and sustainable Refuel will be also available in other countries round the world.

For more information, please contact:
Mika Aho, Managing Director, St1 Biofuels Oy, + 358 50 500 2072, mika.aho(a)

St1 is a Finnish energy company whose vision is to be the leading producer and seller of CO2-aware energy. The company researches and develops economically viable, environmentally sustainable energy solutions. St1's energy services cover everything from energy consultancy to heat production solutions and from wind power to high-concentration bioethanol Refuel RE85 produced from biowaste. In total, St1 has more than 450 petrol stations in Finland, Sweden and Poland. The St1 Group employs just over 160 people, and its turnover will be in excess of 1 billion euros this year.

St1 stays true to its vision by turning waste into bioethanol with the help of the company's own dispersed Etanolix® production concept, which has won this year's Finnish Chemical Industry Innovation Award, the national INNOFINLAND 2008 award patronised by the President of the Republic of Finland, and second place in the European Environmental Press Award 2008 contest.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is one of Europe’s leading experts in bioenergy and biofuels for transport. The Technical Research Centre of Finland develops production chains for new, efficient biofuels and assesses the environmental impact and overall economy of transport not just from a fuel but also from a logistics perspective. As regards traffic flow and safety, VTT develops telematics applications, new technology and solutions. In terms of alternative transport fuels, VTT specialises in optimising biofuel technologies for cold climates, minimising exhaust gas emissions and ensuring the functionality of vehicles. The equipment that VTT uses for research of both cars and heavy goods vehicles is unique across the research world. VTT is an important networker for transport biofuel research as regards the EU and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

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